MMS working together for high achievements

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday afternoon at Marlinton Middle School, computer science students Gavin Walls, Jesse Kelly and Ben Withers, center, show the board and audience websites they created in class. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education Local School Improvement Council meeting Monday afternoon at Marlinton Middle School, the staff and students shared their excitement over the recent release of test score results, which revealed that MMS is ranking higher than the state average in all categories.

“Welcome to the highest performing school in your county,” principal Dustin Lambert said. “We’re excited you are here. We we are super excited about those test scores and super proud of our students here at Marlinton Middle School.”

Lambert, with the help of several students, shared information on the success and concerns of the school.

Lambert began by stating the LSIC recently met to focus on improvements needed at the school, including technology, safety concerns and ways to recognize the students for good attendance.

Lambert reported that the school was getting a new computer lab, and while the server is in an air-conditioned room, there is no AC in what will become the new lab.

“We are not required to have AC,” Lambert said. “But we certainly would love to have it. We are also receiving a brand new mobile lab. Ideally, in a school you would want one-to-one where every child has a device, but we don’t have that, so this is the next greatest thing for us.”

Returning to the AC issue, Lambert said many members of the staff have asked if it is possible to have individual AC units in their classrooms. The addition of AC units may overpower the building’s current electric capacity, but Lambert said he did want to bring the request to the board’s attention.

Moving on the attendance, Lambert said the LSIC wants to find a way to reward students more often for perfect and faithful attendance.

“We are currently generating ideas to reward students for perfect attendance each nine weeks,” he said. “That’s something we’ve not done in the past, but we certainly would love to do that. It seems like we always couple our incentives for attendance with something else, and we don’t always shed light on the importance of perfect attendance or having great attendance.”

Lambert added that there is a concern about the in-school suspension position being only two-and-a-half days a week. With the limited time, it is hard to have timely discipline for the students.

Lambert introduced the Copperhead council – eighth grade representatives: Braedan Hayhurst, president; Robert Pritt, vice president; Haley Spencer. Seventh grade representatives: Kynlee Wilfong, secretary; Hannah Burks. Sixth grade representatives, Kaylee Pritt and Joseph Lizotte.

Spencer and Lizotte assisted Lambert with sharing the school’s attendance rate and discipline incident reports.

Lizotte explained a graph showing the attendance rates for the first 45 days of school from 2015 through 2018, showing that attendance has increased from 93.18 percent in 2015 to 95 percent in 2018. Lizotte said he hopes the school can achieve 100 percent in the near future.

Spencer also used a graph to show that the number of discipline issues during the first 45 days have gone down from 2016 through 2018. In 2016 there were 175 incidents and this year, there have been only 24 incidents.

In presentations:

• Math teacher Nebraska Scotchie and three of her students – Ben Withers, Gavin Walls and Jesse Kelly – introduced the board to the newest class at MMS – computer science.

The students are learning code and shared websites they created for a class project. The students wowed the board with the coding lingo they used and the sites they created.

• Horticulture teacher Margaret Worth and several of her students shared an update on the school’s high tunnel, which is producing vegetables and fruits for the school, as well as for future fundraisers. Worth said she is teaching the students propagation techniques of germination, cutting and division, which includes lots of math and planning.

The board thanked Lambert, teachers and students for their presentations and congratulated them on the high test scores.

In updates:

• Superintendent Terrence Beam reported that October is Principals Month and recognized the school’s principals for their hard work and dedication to providing a safe environment for a great education.

He added a special recognition for the Pocahontas County High School band and its instructors Bob Mann and Richard McLaughlin. He said he recently saw them perform at the Autumn Harvest Festival and Mountain State Forest Festival, adding that the band has grown in its talents and size.

• Student representative Taylor Tegtmeyer reported that the senior class won spirit week last week, and Kyle Cohenour and Aliza Carr were crowed Homecoming King and Queen. He added that David Gibb and Gareth Ryder placed at the State Golf Tournament.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and The Thrasher Group, Inc. for architectural/engineering services for the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School Major Improvement Project.

• Policy GCC-C – Substitute Service Personnel and Policy JCBB-a – Mandatory Expulsion.

• Proposed fundraisers at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective for the 2018-2019 school year.

• The following trips: Pocahontas County High School Cheerleading team to travel to Charleston Civic Center, departing November 2 and returning November 3 and Pocahontas County High School band to travel to Oakland, Maryland, departing and returning October 13.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Creation of position half-time teacher of multi-subjects at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective October 24 through the end of the 2018-2019 school year at state basic pay. Term of employment is 146 one-half days. Position may be abolished at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Position is to be paid for by federal funds.

• Employment of Anne Smith as after school tutor at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at $20 per hour, one hour per day, two days per week, not to exceed 26 weeks, effective October 10, 2018 through April 30, 2019.

• Requested transfer of Lesa A. McCarty from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide/paraprofessional at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, to custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, effective October 10, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year. Term of employment is 166 days. Term of employment shall be 220 days each year thereafter.

• Employment of Wanda Hrabina and Jennifer Nail as after-school tutors at Pocahontas County High School, at $20 per hour, two hours per day, two days per week, not to exceed 30 weeks, effective October 10, through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

• Resignation of Esther M. Kinnison as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to October 2.

• Employment of Staci Jo Keffer as substitute secretary/accountant for Pocahontas County Schools, effective October 10, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

The next board meeting will be a Local School Improvement Council meeting at Hillsboro Elementary School, Monday, October 22, at 3:30 p.m.

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